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Classical 101

Do You Hear What I Hear?

...the sound of the alto next to me singing every note of our Holiday Pops music correctly? How does she do it?! The Columbus Symphony Chorus will be performing its annual Holiday Pops concert December 6, 7, and 8, and we’ve been working hard to perfect about 25 trillion notes of good cheer. Luckily, some are the classics everybody knows, like, “Hark! Ding the Reindeer,  and “O Jingle, Silent Tannenbaum.â€? It is possible at this point that a number of them are becoming hazy. Not wanting to shame myself the first season singing with the Chorus, I’ve tried to be a good soul and practice some of the tough stuff on my own, like “Sing Unto God,â€? from Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus.â€? This piece, while unquestionably beautiful, requires several instances of singing 16 pitches per measure of the same syllable (Ha-a-a-a-Ah-a-a-a-AH-a-a-a, ad infinitum ). Try as I might, the lines always turn into something resembling hysterical laughter. In fact, I doubt even a Maccabee would have the breath to carry himself through that battle. And is it just me, or does it seem that fortune favors Sopranos at Christmastime? Take Mack Wilberg’s “Ding! Dong! Merrily on high,â€? for instance, in which sopranos sing the tune everybody knows and loves, while the lower voices struggle beneath them, alternating either “dingâ€? or “dongâ€? at unpredictable intervals.  1-2-dong-DING-1-DONG Ding-4-Ding-1-22...DANG! And yet…and yet…even my grinchy, racing heart melts a little thinking about all the glad tidings that will echo off the walls of the Ohio Theatre in a few days. Until then, it’ll be a whole lot more Ha-has and Ding-Dongs. And that’s fine with me.